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Can Men Have IBS?|Differences Between Men & Women with IBS

Can Men Have IBS?

Yes, men can have IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is a very common in both men and women. However, only 20% of the individuals are aware of their condition, rest 80% of people suffering from IBS are not aware of the symptoms and thus it becomes harder for them to control the symptoms.

IBS usually occurs in women but its possibility cannot be ruled out in the case of men. The risk of IBS is higher in the case of young adults. Although there is no difference in the structure of intestines in the case of men and women, the symptoms of IBS can be slightly different. The response to the treatment in men is different to that in women. Irrespective of the fact that you are a men or women, it is important to seek proper advice and treatment for your condition.

Differences Between Men & Women with IBS

Geographical and Cultural Differences Between Men & Women with IBS

In the case of most western countries, men are shier as compared to women to seek help on their condition. As compared to men, a woman is 3 times more likely to seek advice. It is hard to explain this fact. The situation is just opposite in the eastern countries where a man suffering from IBS is 4 times more likely to seek advice from a doctor. Thus, we can see the culture and the geographical location can influence the occurrence of IBS in men and women.

Differences Between Men & Women with IBS

Diagnostic Differences Between Men & Women with IBS

Previously, the various criteria that were used to determine the condition of IBS were not as effective in men as compared to women. For instance, abdominal distension was one of the main symptoms that were used to confirm the case of IBS. But, only a few men showed this symptom as compared to women suffering from IBS. Thus, most of the case of IBS in men could not be detected. However, the modern diagnostic criteria (Rome III) is able to detect the condition equally well in men as well as women.

Also, hormonal changes are very common in women but not in the case of men. If a woman is suffering from IBS, the GI symptoms can become severe around the menstrual cycle.

Psychological Differences Between Men & Women with IBS

There are not enough cases of IBS reported in men as compared to women. Thus, the present data is insufficient to determine psychological differences with certainty. However, psychological differences can be helpful in explaining why men are shyer to report it to doctor and seek advice.

Functional Differences Between Men & Women with IBS

Women are more likely to suffer from IBS because of sensitive gut. Medical experts believe that gut in the case of females is more sensitive as compared to that in males. It might be because of the hormone estrogen that is produced in females only. There is a strong connection between the central nervous system and gut activities and experts are trying to understand it better.

Difference of Treatment Between Men & Women with IBS

The response to the medications differs in men and women. It is known that men show lesser side-effects to drugs as compared to women. Women get more relief from the use of opiates than men.

Initially, the only difference that was taken into consideration between men and women suffering from IBS was the reluctance to seek doctors’ advice and treatment. Also, the risk of surgery is lesser in the case of men. Some experts also believe that hypnotherapy is not as effective in men as in case of women.

There are two possibilities that are responsible for the differences in men and women in terms of IBS. The first possible reason is the differences in the structure or the functionality of gut in the male and female. The second possible reason might be the difference in the hormones that are unique to a male or a female.

Presently, we do not have enough data especially related to clinical studies on men to draw any conclusions. Thus, we would need to first study more cases to be able to compare the different factors affecting symptoms and treatment of IBS in men and women.


We need more research and studies to say for sure that there are gender differences in the case of male and female in terms of IBS. However, there is no doubt that most men in North American are less likely to report their condition as compared to females. Thus, we do not have lesser information about the clinical studies on men. We can say that a man is more likely to suffer from IBS as compared to a female. Irrespective of the gender, it is equally important for a man as well as woman to seek proper diagnosis, treatment and advice if IBS is suspected. Also, it is necessary that men should participate in the studies regarding IBS so that more data can be collected on the symptoms, treatment and response to the treatment options. Only then a true conclusion can be drawn if there exists any differences in the case of men and women suffering from IBS.


  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome
  2. Chey, W. D., Kurlander, J., & Eswaran, S. (2015). Irritable bowel syndrome: a clinical review. JAMA, 313(9), 949-958.
  3. Muller-Lissner, S. A., & Holtmann, G. (2017). Irritable bowel syndrome. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 114(29-30), 485.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 8, 2023

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